Australian High Commission
New Zealand

High Commissioner: Australia Day Reception - Opening remarks, 8 February 2024

Australia Day Reception - Opening remarks 


HE Harinder Sidhu AM, Australian High Commissioner to New Zealand


8 February 2024



E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā iwi, e rau rangatira mā 


Tēnā koutou katoa 


Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, 


Honourable Judith Collins KC, Attorney-General and Minister for Defence, 


A very warm welcome to you all to this event to commemorate Australia Day. 


I want to thank Consul-General Brad Williams, Fiona Hart and the amazing team here in Auckland for bringing us together this evening. 


I am delighted to see many familiar faces around the room. You are all good friends of Australia and I want to thank you all at the outset for the contribution you make to strengthen the trans-Tasman relationship. 


There is something special about celebrating Australia Day in New Zealand. 


I think it’s because our people, cultures and histories are so deeply interwoven. 


Around 700,000 New Zealanders call Australia home; and around 70,000 Australians likewise live, work, study and prosper here. 


As a result, there are few Australians who don’t have a New Zealand connection somewhere in their family, or vice versa. 


On days like today we naturally look to the past, our shared histories and achievements. 


But any dynamic relationship must also look to the future. 


Exactly one week ago, I was in Melbourne with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters, and Defence Minister Judith Collins for the first ever joint meeting of our foreign and defence ministers, now nicknamed ‘ANZMIN’. 


This was a significant meeting, aimed at strengthening the Trans-Tasman strategic partnership and charting a course for a new phase. 


Our two nations are committed to working together, as we address the most challenging strategic environment in decades. 


Our ministers recognise that we are the closest of friends and as such, our influence in the world is greater when we work together. 


This meeting built on the very successful visit of Prime Minister Luxon to meet Prime Minister Albanese just before Christmas last year. It was a warm and positive meeting, in line with the long tradition of close friendship between our respective leaders. 


The relationship we build with the newly-elected Luxon government will continue to be based on our shared interests and values.


It will also be guided by the Trans-Tasman Roadmap to 2035 that our two Prime Ministers signed last year, which lays out our plan for how Australia and New Zealand will work together, in our region and in the world to create a more secure and prosperous future for us all. 


Of course, there’s more to our relationship than official government exchanges. 


When I stood here at this time last year, I said we would look to expand our extensive cultural ties by bringing our indigenous cultures closer together. 


And so, we are privileged to be supporting the Auckland Arts Festival again in 2025 as they bring over a range of Australian acts, including one of Australia’s leading digeridoo players, William Barton, and the multi-talented and hilarious Tim Minchin. 


Next week, Australia’s First Nations Ambassador Justin Mohammed will host senior Māori business representatives at the First Nations economic dialogue in Townsville. 


Having just returned from Waitangi Day celebrations, I’m reminded of how each of us in on a different point on our paths to indigenous reconciliation. We have so much to celebrate, but also much to learn. 


Or, as the Māori whakataukī says:


Kia whakatōmuri te haere whakamua 


‘I walk backwards into the future with my eyes fixed on my past.’ 


On this celebration of our relationship, I would like to propose a toast. 


To His Majesty King Charles the Third and the the Government and people of New Zealand 


No reira 


Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.